Insights & Articles  /  At the Heart of DuMOL

Insights & ArticlesAt the Heart of DuMOL

At the Heart of DuMOL - grapes
“As a ‘vineyard up’ winery, we remain very close to the ingredients, close to the vineyards. Our winemaking technique is secondary to what we achieve in the field.”
At the Heart of DuMOL - vineyards with fog

“It takes time to discover a vineyard’s defining characteristics and even longer to employ the right winemaking technique to draw out those features in the wines. It requires sensitivity, a lightness of touch. We try not to layer in too many winemaking techniques. We try not to obscure the vineyard character. Ultimately, this allows us to achieve a more complex, multi-dimensional, effortless quality in our wines.”

At the Heart of DuMOL - Hoppe-Kelly

The Hoppe-Kelly is planted on a steep hillside and features rocky, iron-rich, weathered volcanic soils that add an extra dimension of structure to the wines.

At the Heart of DuMOL - Andy

We planted the Jentoft Vineyard in 2007 using our own historic vine selections. Once a vine hits about 9-10 years old, the uniformity of the vine growth becomes regular and defined and the resulting fruit quality really takes a strong step ahead.

“We collaborate very closely with our growers, from pruning through to the day of harvest. We work together to express their piece of land in a way that draws out the unique characteristics of each parcel.”
DuMOL Winery night harvest DuMOL Winery shoveling grapes

“We get to work with this really fantastic fruit from some of the very best vineyards in Sonoma and Napa. We honor it by making the best wine we possibly can.”

DuMOL Winery Julie Cooper lab research

We fine tune and experiment each year and believe that quality comes from layering a whole series of nuances which combine to create the detail we love in our wines.

DuMOL Winery Julie Cooper vineyard sampling

Many mornings are spent in the vineyards, collecting samples for analysis, tasting fruit, and monitoring the vines.

“Our farmers need to know that they are working for a reason. I think when we work really hard in the winery to do the best we can with their fruit it makes them want to work harder too. So, each year, we’re only getting better at it, in the field and in the winery.”
DuMOL Winery harvest bucket of grapes DuMOL Winery Jaime Eufracio cleaning barrels

It’s exciting to see the quality of the grapes we achieve through months of precise viticulture and responsive farming, anticipating the quality of the finished wines.

DuMOL Winery Andy Smith harvest grape sorting

“The date we harvest a specific block in a vineyard – or the entire vineyard – is the most important decision we make all year because that sets the tone for the final wine. We’re visiting the vineyards every couple of days, focusing on the maturity of the vine – where we think the ripeness is going to go and how that translates to the final flavor in the wine. This is an ongoing process that can only be done in the field and it comes from a depth of experience and that vision of winemaking – the taste, the structure, the intensity can all be tracked back to the day of harvest.”

DuMOL Winery harvest grape bin DuMOL Winery equipment cleaning
“It’s important to have a strong sense of vision for how you want the wine to communicate. With experience you learn how to create that roadmap from grape to bottle.”
DuMOL Winery Jenna Gargrave filling barrel

Our barrel program focuses on a handful of select artisan coopers.

DuMOL Winery topping barrel

Each of our coopers creates a barrel with specific character, whether it’s the full bodied, masculine style of Tonnellerie Remond; the complex, savory style of Tonnellerie Chassin; the elegant, subtle details of Tonnellerie Ermitage; or the texture and depth that comes from Tonnellerie Atelier Centre France.

DuMOL Winery Jaime Eufracio bottling

For Pinot Noir we concentrate on the cool Green Valley and Sonoma Coast areas of Western Sonoma County where ridgetop soils, eastern exposures and fog-influences combine to produce grapes that are both delicate and concentrated.

DuMOL Winery Green Valley vineyards
“We are committed to Sonoma County and we farm sustainably for the long term. We support a dynamic, holistic culture of food and wine. You can’t separate the quality of the wine from the culture of the region.”
DuMOL Winery night harvest team
DuMOL Winery harvest tool

Our crew starts to harvest at 11 pm and will harvest until 7 am.

DuMOL Winery harvest tool sharpening

We harvest the grapes at night so the cool, firm fruit remains intact during its short journey to the winery.

“During élevage, the raising of the wine in the barrel, you need to know when to nudge the wine in a certain direction, and know when to let the wine evolve at its own pace. Patience is very important at this stage. We listen to what each wine needs individually instead of imposing a preconceived idea of what a particular wine should be.”

DuMOL Winery Jenna Gargrave bottling quality assurance DuMOL Winery harvest barrel maintenance

In the winery we work in a patient, sensitive and classical manner to maintain all the natural nuances and fine details of the fruit.

DuMOL Winery harvest grape sorting
“The first time we open and taste that vintage after it’s bottled, all those small decisions came together, all that hard work meant something.”
DuMOL Winery moving grape bins DuMOL Winery bottling cases

“Winemaking is an amazing journey. Every year it’s changing and every year you go through a whole spectrum of events and hard work. Then, at the end, you have this product that is a time capsule. When you uncork it, it tells the story of everything that happened over that year, every factor in the vineyard, all that effort.”

DuMOL Winery bottling labeling

Insights & ArticlesA Study of our Vineyards

“The vision of the winemaker starts in the field.”

We have the great privilege of farming small select parcels across more than two dozen very special vineyard sites.

It takes time, working with a vineyard, to discover its defining characteristics. Then, it takes even longer to use the right winemaking techniques and sensitivity to highlight those features in the wine. A lightness of touch in our winemaking allows us to achieve a more complex, multi-dimensional, “effortless” quality in our wines.

Over two decades, we’ve gained access to some truly legendary sites. And we’ve achieved close personal relationships with our growers. Our shared respect for the land, our dedication to the work, and our mutual respect for each other, carry through to the final product. We work with good people and we’re going to make some amazing wines.

From first pruning through to the day of harvest, we’re out there farming the land in a way that draws out the singularity of each parcel. We minimize our footprint in the vineyard, stay very close to the “ingredients” and let the vineyards speak for themselves.

DuMOL Winery Vineyards

Vineyard Information

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Insights & ArticlesHighland Divide:
Estate-Driven and Precisely Blended

“Highland Divide, for me, describes a very special zone that separates the valley floor of the Russian River from the Sonoma Coast. That’s really the tenderloin section of the Russian River Valley itself. I always find that we get our best grapes from this area.”

We firmly believe that each DuMOL wine tells an original story. These stories begin in the vineyard, some of which go back to the early 1980’s when our oldest vines were planted. They build upon that base with the narrative of each vintage, describing through taste, texture, and perfume the unique agricultural and climatic circumstances that we are presented with each year. The stories of our vineyard designates, cellar-worthy and beloved, end there. Each wine is molded by vintage, crafted in the vineyard, and stewarded through the winery to your table. Our Highland Divide wines however, have a different and more complex journey.

Winemaking Team
“A single-vineyard wine relies solely on the quality of fruit and the farming. That's also true in a blended wine, but a blended wine showcases the talents of the winemakers in putting pieces together and bringing out the very best of different lots.”

Blending Highland Divide

Highland Divide takes the story of vineyard and vintage a step further. It seeks to combine the stories of multiple vineyards in one vintage into a cohesive, precisely crafted blend of Estate-grown, high-density farmed fruit. The winemakers must taste through dozens of lots, small parcels of vines that each have distinctive characteristics that may add to the final product. To see the subtle changes that different vinification methods offer from one lot to the next requires experience, a keen sense of taste and smell, and more importantly, an end goal. That end goal is simple and an enormous challenge at the same time: create a product that exemplifies DuMOL’s history of making wines with clarity, depth, and elegance. A wine that tells our story.

“Year in and year out, we aim to make a Highland Divide Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that will showcase what the appellation brings as a whole. We are making wines that are from different vineyard sites that have different aspects that when put together make a very complete wine.”

When the picking, vinifying, blending and aging are complete, you have a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts, like any good story. Fruit-driven but still a classic DuMOL Estate wine, with intensity, savory elements, and a purity of flavor that is on par with any of our other bottlings. Always delicious to drink on release, but capable of extended aging if you choose. Highland Divide tells the collective story of DuMOL through vineyard, vintage, and winemaking. We hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Insights & ArticlesOur 2023 Summer Release

DuMOL - Our 2023 Summer Release

Working with DuMOL for over two decades—as a winemaker and partner—has given me some extraordinary opportunities and insights. Each vineyard we have the privilege of planting allows our team to flex our creative/experimental muscles and take our industry forward.  

Our 10-acre MacIntyre Vineyard, northwest of Sebastopol, is a former organic, high-density apple orchard that features classic Goldridge soil with a top layer of “moondust,” extremely sandy/silty soils with low water-holding capacity and almost no clay. We planted this cool, east-facing hillside in 2016 with the expectation that it would produce intense wines of great clarity and poise. While most of the field was dedicated to our favorite rare field selections of Pinot Noir, I couldn’t resist reserving an acre for two experimental plantings.  

Our Chenin Blanc project takes us “back to the future.” This classic white variety had a major presence in post-prohibition California when growers shifted away from table grapes to noble varieties--but then it fell out of fashion as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc came to dominance. While early California Chenin Blanc vine selections featured large berries and clusters, the new Loire Valley French selection we planted produces small, concentrated berries. Planted in our cool coastal climate, this clone expresses a beautiful green apple character with an underpinning of mineral precision while displaying the honeyed richness of its Loire provenance. The wine’s freshness, poise and moderate alcohol level make it an exciting and promising new addition to our Sonoma Coast landscape.  

As a red counterpart, our Mencía project takes its inspiration from the Castile and Léon region of Northwest Spain. Up until about 20 years ago, this was a relatively obscure indigenous regional grape variety. But once a few superb local producers started to cultivate the region’s older hillside vines, Mencía garnered the attention and respect it clearly deserves. I started seriously tasting these wines about a decade ago and love its blend of richness, vibrancy, and deep complexity. When by chance I discovered the first importation of Mencía cuttings were starting to be released to the industry, I took a punt on a half-acre planting. I think it’s ideally suited to the coolest areas of California if farmed precisely to “tame” the variety’s natural vigor and keep yields low. Without question, the 2021 vintage is our finest Mencía yet—the greatness of the 2021 overall vintage is readily apparent.  

These experimental micro-plantings are close to our winegrowing hearts and it’s exciting to observe how our MacIntyre Estate expresses these varieties. Both ripen 3-4 weeks after Pinot Noir, so they can hang on the vine for an extended period post-veraison and build up beautiful richness and complexity with tempered alcohol levels thanks to the cool coastal growing conditions. Both wines will naturally become even richer, broader and more expressive of these lean sandy soils in years to come. In the meantime, the 2021 vintage is a huge success. If we consider (and drink!) the entire set of wines we crafted and will offer throughout the year, it’s hard to argue this isn’t our finest vintage ever. 

-Andy Smith 

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